Lightning top Avs in OT for franchise-best 11th straight win

Lightning top Avs in OT for franchise-best 11th straight win
Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov, center, scores the winning goal on Colorado Avalanche goaltender Pavel Francouz, right, after driving past center Nathan MacKinnon, left, and in overtime of an NHL hockey game Monday, Feb. 17, 2020, in Denver. The Lightning won 4-3 in overtime. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

DENVER (AP) — Nikita Kucherov stole the puck from Nathan MacKinnon and scored 3:03 into overtime, sending the Tampa Bay Lightning to a franchise-record 11th straight win, 4-3 over the Colorado Avalanche on Monday night.

Cameron Gaunce and Alex Killorn scored 16 seconds apart during the Bolts’ three-goal second period before Colorado came back to force overtime.

Steven Stamkos also had a goal for Tampa Bay in the second period that erased a 1-0 deficit, and Bolts goaltender Curtis McElhinney stopped 24 shots despite getting bowled over by Colorado’s J.T. Compher midway through the third period, sparking the first of two brawls in a tense ending.

McElhinney crumpled awkwardly and lay motionless for a moment before rising slowly. He was visited by a trainer but stayed in the game. Compher was called for interference.

Another scuffle broke out after Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon leveled Ondrej Palat cleanly in front of Tampa Bay’s bench.

The Avalanche dropped their third straight and lost forward Mikko Rantanen to a left shoulder injury when he was tripped into the boards at full-speed by Erik Cernak in the second period. Rantanen immediately left the ice and headed inside before the Bolts killed the power play.

Pavel Francouz stopped the first 11 shots he faced starting in place of Philipp Grubauer, who suffered a lower body injury in the Avs’ 3-1 loss to the Kings in the NHL Stadium Series at the Air Force Academy on Saturday night.

Then Palat sent a pass through the slot to Killorn as he skated toward the crease, and Killorn redirected the puck into an open net at 4:54. Gaunce scored his first goal since March 24, 2017, just 16 seconds later with a shot from the point that beat Francouz on the short side.

Stamkos made it 3-1 when he came from behind the net and tapped in the loose puck sitting behind Francouz in the crease.

Colorado pulled to 3-2 on MacKinnon’s goal with 94 seconds left in the second period and the Avs tied it up when Cale Makar’s shot deflected off Valeri Nichushkin with 12:43 left in the third.

Francouz had a career-high 44 saves in the Avs’ 6-2 win over the Bolts back in October when the Lightning suffered their largest margin of defeat this season.

Tampa Bay’s 11th straight victory — the longest winning streak in the NHL this season — broke the franchise mark of 10 set last season and tied earlier this season. Tampa Bay is just the second NHL franchise to record a pair of double-digit winning streaks a single season, joining the Boston Bruins, who did it in 1929-30 and 1970-71.

NOTES: The Avs are the highest-scoring team in the league, averaging 3.56 goals per game, and the Lightning are second at 3.54 goals per game. … Tampa Bay has allowed three or fewer goals in 22 consecutive games, going 19-2-1 over that stretch. The Bolts are surrendering a league-low 1.71 goals per game in 2020.

UP NEXT

Lightning: Play at Vegas on Thursday night.

Avalanche: Host the New York Islanders Wednesday night.

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